This afternoon, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced K-12 teachers would begin to be vaccinated on February 8 to help protect them, their students, and their families from COVID-19. Access to in-person K-12 and early childhood education is critical to the growth and development of students across the state; the safe reopening of schools will also help parents across Colorado return to work. I am glad to see that Colorado continues to make progress in distributing vaccines to help bring an end to the pandemic.
I know many of you have had questions about when you will be able to access the vaccines, and why faculty members have not been included in the state’s definition of “frontline workers in education.” Every day for the last several weeks, I have actively advocated through outreach to the Governor’s Office, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) that our faculty members—particularly those who are teaching classes, labs, and studios in person on our campus this semester—should be elevated on the state’s prioritization order to immediately follow or be vaccinated in tandem with early childhood, primary, and secondary school teachers. I appreciate the efforts of my fellow higher education CEOs who have joined me in this cause. While many of our courses are being delivered online, half of the courses offered at UNC in fall 2020 and spring 2021 at UNC have an in-person component, being delivered either fully in-person or in a hybrid modality. Ensuring our faculty are vaccinated is a critical priority for institutions like UNC to be able to remain open now and reopen in as normal a manner as possible in fall 2021.
I am concerned that the state has not yet committed to elevating the vaccination priority of vital college and university faculty members who are on the front lines continuing to ensure that students can make progress to degree completion in the middle of the pandemic. I am proud of our faculty and very grateful for their efforts to support our students under these extraordinary circumstances. I will continue to respectfully urge Governor Polis and leaders in CDPHE, and CDHE that targeted employees at institutions of higher education should be included in the definition of “frontline workers in education” relative to level 1B, as has been done in about half the states to date.
Up-to-date vaccination information from the State of Colorado is available at http://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine. Until there is a change in the state’s vaccination prioritization, college and university faculty will gain access to the vaccine with the general population and based on factors such as their age and the presence of various risk factors. We encourage you to contact your primary care physician for guidance and to determine your placement in the prioritization order. Please help us to keep UNC’s student health and COVID-19 response teams focused on testing, treatment, and contact tracing by directing questions to your own doctor. UNC does not have access to vaccine doses that we can administer to the general population at this time.
Rowing, Not Drifting,